The magic of the Christmas season arrives at Qualicum Beach’s Milner Gardens beginning December 2, offering up a cornucopia of festive delights not to be found anywhere else on the Island.
The historic Milner estate is a 70-acre blend of forest and waterfront woodland garden anchored by an enchanting gabled house that was completed in 1931. The garden and house are a major attraction for visitors and area residents throughout the year for a variety of events, but the Milner Christmas Magic experience has to be one of its most popular.
Designed to appeal to kids of all ages, Milner’s yuletide attraction begins with a leisurely walk or shuttle ride along the lengthy winding driveway that leads to the house. The driveway is strung with lights, and static decorative displays along the way draw the eye and build anticipation of what is to come. When the driveway terminates at the house and 10-acre waterfront garden visitors are greeted with an eye-popping blaze of thousands of multi-coloured lights. They are strung from trees, along the house and from almost any other vantage point you can imagine. It is impossible not to be cheered by the sight.
The light displays, however, are really just the beginning. The folks at Milner do an extraordinary job of creating the ambiance, charm and excitement of an old-fashioned Christmas in so many ways, and in many locations on the estate.
The gracious old home is the main focus for much of the special activity that occurs. It is decorated end-to-end, indoors and out, with greenery and twinkling lights, evoking memories of a gentler time that preceded the commercial juggernaut of modern Christmases.
One of the main attractions in the house is the story room, complete with comfy chairs and cushions on the floor. Volunteers spend the evenings reading to book fans young and old.
The beautiful tea room, complete with handsome fireplace and festive decorations, offers scrumptious treats and warm beverages – again, thanks to the work and dedication of many volunteers. There is a room offering live seasonal music for those who enjoy that aspect of this festive time of year, and another of the rooms is set up as a mini-shop, where visitors can purchase a variety of lovely items.
Volunteers also man an outdoor concession near the house where hot chocolate, hot dogs and other sustenance is available.
There are other special spots on the estate as well, all located near the driveway access that leads to the house. The old gardener’s cottage is transformed into the Teddy Bear Cottage, and the pool house is an expanded permanent version of the shopping opportunity found at the main house.
All-in-all, Milner Christmas Magic is one of the best ways to begin the Christmas period. It offers a relaxed two or three hours that will take you back to the festive seasons of yesteryear; and who knows, you might even run in to Santa and Mrs. Claus!
Comfortable footwear and warm clothing are recommended, and it’s not a bad idea to take a flashlight along. Admission to Milner Christmas Magic is by donation at the main entry gate.
Dates and hours for the 2016 Milner Christmas Magic event are as follows:
December 2-4, December 9-11, December 16-21 from 5 – 8:30 p.m.
Milner Gardens and Woodland is located at 2179 West Island Highway at Qualicum Beach. Further information can be obtained at the website:
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.352825 Long. -124.412852
N 49 21.170 W 124 24.771